Tuesday, November 6, 2018

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 145

Welcome to People Behind the Meeples, a series of interviews with indie game designers.  Here you'll find out more than you ever wanted to know about the people who make the best games that you may or may not have heard of before.  If you'd like to be featured, head over to http://gjjgames.blogspot.com/p/game-designer-interview-questionnaire.html and fill out the questionnaire! You can find all the interviews here: People Behind the Meeples. Support me on Patreon!

Name:Tom O'Halloren
Location:Great Meadows, NJ
Day Job:Freelance Illustrator
Designing:Two to five years.
BGG:WIP Witches Sabbath 2 Player Skirmish Game
Facebook:Noirtoony Games
Find my games at:https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/sugarplum-chronicles
Today's Interview is with:

Tom O'Halloren
Interviewed on: 6/16/2018

This week we get to hear from Tom O'Halloren, a designer that's working on two games. The Sugarplum Chronicles is currently available on The Game Crafter and Witches Sabbath is his current project. Tom is also an illustrator and does the artwork for his projects. Read on to learn more about Tom!

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
Two to five years.

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
As an illustrator I decided to design my first game to showcase my work. I eventually fell in love with designing.

What game or games are you currently working on?
Witches' Sabbath, a 2 player skirmish game featuring teams of witches casting spells, wielding brooms, and shifting the terrain to their favor.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
I self-published my first game, Sugarplum Chronicles, through The Game Crafter after a failed Kickstarter campaign.

What is your day job?
Freelance Illustrator

Your Gaming Tastes
My readers would like to know more about you as a gamer.

Where do you prefer to play games?
Right now I mostly play at home with friends. I love to attend playtesting events as well, to help other creators hone their visions.

Who do you normally game with?
My wife and a few other friends.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
We enjoy lighter party games like Castle Panic, Telestrations, and Scattegories.

And what snacks would you eat?
Chips, cheese and crackers, and sour patch kids mostly. We eat a ton of sour patch kids.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
No, not at all. I think I would find it way too distracting.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
The Dragon's Hoard in downtown Hackettstown, New Jersey. The owner, Craig, has been super supportive in helping playtest my games.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
As humble as this sounds ;) my current favorite game is my own, Witches' Sabbath. It's a game I have been itching to make for years and I think the blend of mechanics scratch the itch pretty well. I think my least favorite that I still enjoy would be Zombies!! It's kind of a shallow game with not much in the way of choice happening, but I still dig the tile placement and zombie theme so I'll play it on a rare occasion. I don't know if it's the worst game, but Stuffed Fables really was not as fun as it looked imho. We got the game on a whim and there was just too much to keep track of for me. It's absolutely beautiful, but I think I'm more interested in lighter games with fewer bits to keep track of.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Pattern building is something I enjoy, in co-op and versus games. It's really the basis of the combat system in Witches' Sabbath; building your own patterns to perform abilities and trying to impede your opponent's pattern making efforts. I'm not a huge fan of trick taking elements in games. In trick taking games, I find there is often larger element of chance than I am a fan of, but it really depends on my mood, and the game.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
I don't have one. My wife says 'Scattegories'.

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card Games, Video Games

Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Board Games, Card Games

OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
In the right setting, with the right people, one or two playthroughs are fun.

You as a Designer
OK, now the bit that sets you apart from the typical gamer. Let's find out about you as a game designer.

When you design games, do you come up with a theme first and build the mechanics around that? Or do you come up with mechanics and then add a theme? Or something else?
Something else. My first game, Sugarplum Chronicles, I came up with the theme first, which was a mistake. My newest game started as a 'vibe' that I wanted to get from playing the game. I wanted players to feel like they were controlling unique units in a dense swamp environment. Mechanics came first from that and I eventually found the right theme.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
I have not yet. I seem to just miss the deadlines, derp.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
I'm working on illustrations for Witches' Sabbath now, and I find a lot of inspiration from the artist, Ivan Bilbin. I don't really have a single designer who I admire. I think generally anyone who can bring a game from concept to the table is worth admiration.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
For my current game I actually take inspiration from film and video games, and I spend a lot of time figuring out how I can replicate certain scenes or experiences on a tabletop. That's where I'm at now anyway.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
I start with very rough versions of the game that I playtest with friends and family, and when the game is in a state where it can be boxed up and given a rule booklet I send it out to game stores for players to try.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I prefer to work alone right now. If I found someone I really mesh well with it might be a different story.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
I think my biggest challenge is that I came to the tabletop gaming community as an illustrator, and so I feel like I'm lacking some of the vocabulary and background to communicate my games effectively sometimes.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
I have a game in mind that would be absolutely perfect with the Toxic Avengers IP.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Go for it. See your first game through to the end and then get out there and have people play it. I only regret that I didn't join the designer community sooner.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
This is a piece of advice that may not apply to anyone else, but for me it's important to complete one game and then move on. You can have half a dozen ideas in your head, or on note cards, but until you've taken one to the finish line it's hard to move on to the next level. Personally, I have a strict rule that I work on one game at a time. What that does for me, is it turns my new ideas into motivators for my current game. 'See this game through to the end and you'll get to start on that outer space dating simulator you've always wanted to make'.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Sugarplum Chronicles, available at TheGameCrafter.com
Games that I'm playtesting are: Witches' Sabbath

And the oddly personal, but harmless stuff…
OK, enough of the game stuff, let's find out what really makes you tick! These are the questions that I’m sure are on everyone’s minds!

Star Trek or Star Wars? Coke or Pepsi? VHS or Betamax?
Star Trek OS all day! No stance on Coke vs. Pepsi. VHS.

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Illustration and bad movies

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Classic Rock, Post-apocalyptic books, and again bad movies.

What was the last book you read?
Wolf in Shadow, by David Gemmell, which is an interesting take on the post-apoc genre. I recommend it if you're looking for some weird sci-fi fantasy mash-up.

Do you play any musical instruments?
I bang on tables rhythmically.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I worked in radio for most of my twenties, first as an on-air newscaster, and then as the station's afternoon DJ. It was an awesome experience.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
Randomly decided to get a job in the radio industry. I needed full-time work while taking night classes and was always fascinated with radio. I fell in love with radio, and the station is where I met my wife.

Who is your idol?
I try to stay close to home with the people I admire, and so I would say I admire friends and family for their kindness, intelligence, and work ethic.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
I would travel 400 years into the future and probably regret that decision almost immediately.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Introvert to the extreme, but as I get older I find I'm more comfortable with that.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Superman seems to have the greatest powers with the least amount of baggage.

When the next asteroid hits Earth, causing the Yellowstone caldera to explode, California to fall into the ocean, the sea levels to rise, and the next ice age to set in, what current games or other pastimes do you think (or hope) will survive into the next era of human civilization? What do you hope is underneath that asteroid to be wiped out of the human consciousness forever?
Okay so... I don't think much of anything would survive under those specific conditions. I would hope at least some of our greatest literature is rediscovered by humanity at some point after the sun re-emerges through the heavy layer of ash in our atmosphere. I really hope they don't find the Fifty Shades series and assume they're some kind of religious texts :fingers crossed:.

If you'd like to send a shout out to anyone, anyone at all, here's your chance (I can’t guarantee they’ll read this though):
Shout out to all those kind and brave enough to play other people's untested games. You rock!

Thanks for answering all my crazy questions!

Thank you for reading this People Behind the Meeples indie game designer interview! You can find all the interviews here: People Behind the Meeples and if you'd like to be featured yourself, you can fill out the questionnaire here: http://gjjgames.blogspot.com/p/game-designer-interview-questionnaire.html

Did you like this interview?  Pleasse show your support: Support me on Patreon! Or click the heart at Board Game Links , like GJJ Games on Facebook , or follow on Twitter .  And be sure to check out my games on  Tabletop Generation.

No comments:

Post a Comment